Since YouTube changed the game in 2005, the application of video technology to the recruitment industry has been the next big thing. It hasn’t happened. Despite its obvious utility, Video CV’s remain very much on the fringes of the debate in the big recruitment tent. Why is this? I’ve come up with three reasons

1. It’s a School Disco

School disco 2 300x185 Where ARE The Video CVs?

Remember School Disco? Actually how could anyone forget. As a teenage rite of passage, it’s as excruciating as they come, inflicted on the impressionable by the well intentioned yet horribly
misguided. The iconic moment is of course, at the very beginning, when
the music comes on and nobody wants to be first on the dance floor. Twenty years on, the embarrassment hasn’t even begun to fade.

I think the Video CV market is like a school disco. The music is on, but no one wants to go first on the dance floor. Not the employers who could be running video CV only recruitment campaigns, not the recruiters who won’t spend on tech if they don’t have to, not the job seekers who see little point when there is no overt demand from the other two. The Video
CV market is waiting for a decisive first mover, and for that mover to
be quickly followed by the market they are addressing. So far, we
haven’t seen it.

2. There is an asymmetry of production vs consumption

vitruvian man mixed 300x300 Where ARE The Video CVs?

CV’s are marketing collateral and consequently, they need to look good. So far, every attempt at video CV’s has failed in this regard. Whilst the production technology available to most home users is good enough to do a Skype call with
Grandma in Hong Kong, it’s nowhere near good enough to make it case for
it to be on your CV, much less be a replacement for your CV. It makes massive difference that we live in a media saturated age where we are inundated with HD and 3D quality video’s – we now have enormously high expectations of what a good video needs to looks like. In effect, we have an asymmetry between production and consumption – we consume a far better class of video
quality than we can produce ourselves. Can it really be any surprise
that our own speak-into-the-camera moments look so excruciatingly bad,
when our internal reference point is the latest Lady Gaga vid or HBO’s Hard Knocks?

3. You can make terrible, terrible mistakes

Aleksey Vayner 300x191 Where ARE The Video CVs?

The margin is for error is small, and yet the penalties for a mistake can be enormous. When it comes to the Video CV, one man more any other knows this is to be true: step forward Aleksey Vayner. A Yale graduate in 2006, Vayner’s Impossible Is Nothing video resume, featuring the karate chopping, tango dancing, weight lifting protagonist himself became an Internet sensation when that went viral
later that year. If you haven’t viewed this piece of Internet history,
it’s because poor Aleksey has spent the better part of the decade
tracking down and deleting the video
everywhere it has appeared online. Fortunately, I’ve tracked down a
copy on one of the remaining sites that still host it, and so for your
education, click this link.

Amazing, I’m sure you agree. To be fair to Vayner, I think he deserves credit for his give-it-a-go, pioneering attitude. That said, there’s no getting away from the fact that the video
was an unmitigated disaster when measured against his intentions.
Instead of becoming a showcase for his employability on Wall Street, it
became a viral comedy piece which was widely lampooned across the globe.
The chastened Aleksey Vayner has by all accounts since disappeared from
public view, and it wouldn’t be unkind to say that his mistake has had
significant, long lasting, career limiting impact. When a video
CV carries such a degree of risk, compared to a very low level of
reward, is it any wonder that the format hasn’t been widely adopted?
Right now, it is only for the fearless, desperate or satirical

So where does this leave us?

Leave us 300x223 Where ARE The Video CVs?

It’s not here yet, but it’s got to happen at some stage. The quality of candidate information captured through rich media is clearly more compelling than that conveyed by a two page text based document. And if Seth Godin’s right in saying that the interview is
really a 5 minute sniff test – then the savings that could be provided by a video bio would be tremendous value to job seekers, recruiters
and employers alike – potentially the elimination of some of the stages
of interview. We just need for these three obstacles to be overcome.

This post was reproduced with the permission of Wise Man Say Ltd. For original copy see:

Views: 583

Comment by Colleen Aylward on September 25, 2010 at 12:47pm
Regarding the legal ramifications: This is a *large* topic and needs to be seriously considered when using video technology. On the one hand, some say that viewing a video interview is no different than an in-person interview in terms of the ability to discriminate. However, there is the "smoking gun" evidence that is lost for the candidate when they are not in the room to catch any clues in body language or facial expressions that they could use to file an EEOC claim. This potential needs to be mitigated with a process all its own that MUST include the viewing of other relevant data along with a video. It is these "stand-alone" videos that employment attorneys caution HR about. On the other hand, if you are using video interviews (live or canned) to evaluate just one set of job-related qualifications (e.g. communication and language skills such as are needed in a call center role) and you have a process to document this step, then the tool becomes a tremendous time saver.

We all need to be thinking of videos like we think of assessment and skills testing -- just another point of due diligence in the process that has to be weighed equally with other data. And further, just as in assessment testing, choose ONLY those video tools that meet best practices standards (re: EEO compliant interview questions, metrics capture of viewing activity, consistency across job candidates, etc.)

After all, we're looking for information about candidates that gets us to the TRUTH faster. That's the whole point in helping companies make the best match that will be sustainable.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 26, 2010 at 12:14am
And just exactly what does one do about a candidates who is smarter than the law should allow, has a fabulous resume and is so freaking ugly in a video that it would turn a funeral procession up an alley. Have you ever seen a video of someone with one wandering eye. What is barely noticible in person becomes laser focused in a video. Most of my clients won't even accept a resume with a picture on it much less a video.
Comment by pam claughton on September 26, 2010 at 9:51am
I'm with you on this one. I can appreciate that this seems to be working for some, although it does seem that everyone who raves about video resumes is a vendor of them. :) This is a technology I am not anxious to implement, for all the reasons mentioned thus far, but more than anything, for the time factor involved, in a candidate making this video and client watching. I'm not convinced that it's a good use of anyone's time. But that is just my opinion. :)
Comment by Colleen Aylward on September 26, 2010 at 1:34pm
I love a good discussion with smart women!! Thanks for jumping on this topic! Yes, I'm a vendor, but was a retained recruiter for 18 years and a hiring manager before that, so I really do get the other side of the arguments. I've also learned over the years that there is a job for every person and a person for every job... (except in THIS economy!) and it's OUR job to make those correct matches. And I'm a firm believer that technology can help here. There are all sorts of *human factors* in play when you mention "video"... some will fade away and some will continue to be obstacles. For instance, those less attractive and charming candidates will perceive that they have less of a chance of getting a good response on video UNTIL they blow out their assessment test (being brighter than their competition) or have more in-depth endorsements or patents or PhDs etc that savvy hiring managers will weigh (or be forced to weigh) more heavily. And herein lies the key: we can/should use technology to help TEACH people how to evaluate candidates. If we're in this to truly help make good matches that stick, we'll focus our hiring managers on the assets of the candidate that are most important to the job and the team fit BEFORE we introduce a video. On the other hand (you can tell I'm a Virgo/Libra here...) there are many cases in which we need speed in choosing candidates who simply have the best client-interfacing style or the most "presence" in a group of deal-makers, and the video piece helps immensely to get a first look. Keep coming at me with your thoughts! This is good stuff!
Comment by Colleen Aylward on September 26, 2010 at 1:51pm
Pam, I wanted to address the time factor that you mention. YES, it takes more time to view an online "total profile" (resume + video interview + endorsements + assessment results + LinkedIn Profile ++) than it does to scan a resume for keywords. Totally agree. And until we incorporate speech-to-text in all video clips, it's not likely that the video viewing process will win in a time test to scan the first 100 candidates down to 20. However, (and again i don't condone the viewing of stand-alone videos without having the resume and other candidate assets at your fingertips at the same time, or even prior...) let's keep talking about a Total profile instead of just video clips. The time it DOES save is the traditional phone screening step and the first interview round, which can take up to 6 weeks in the process. So your candidate creates a Total profile (or you create it for them), you view it as a recruiter for 5 minutes to see if he/she fits the quals and corporate culture of your client, then you email the profile off to the hiring manager. The hiring manager spends 10 minutes on it and BOOM, they know right away whether to spend an hour on a face-to-face. You just saved your client several weeks in the process and gave them a much richer view of your candidate than just a resume or write-up... Next time they have a search, do you think they'll go back to just accepting a resume only? Hiring managers want to know all this data about a candidate during the process anyway and you just served it up to them in a few days rather than weeks. And your candidates did most of the work for you! What say you?
Comment by Allison on September 26, 2010 at 5:29pm
Like Colleen, I am a recruiter turned "vendor" though I do still own a staffing firm as well. I designed and build candid capture for my staffing business and used it internally for a year before I decided to make it a separate company and offer it to other recruiters. That's how effective it is in reducing time-to-hire. I dont think video is intended to replace the face-to-face. Nor do I think it is the only assessment tool. It is a time saver and another tool in the recruiter toolbox.

This is the "standard" process in most companies; we recieve X number of resumes for a job posting. We select Y candidates, based on their resumes, to conduct an innitial interview to ask them basic questions about their skills, experience, temperment, strenghs, weaknesses, etc. Then, based on the innitial interview, Z number of candidates are passed along to the hiring manager or client for further review. The manager gets the resume and the recruiters input based on the innitial interview. They then decide who to bring in for next round interview. So far, nothing different, or out of the ordinary, right?

The only difference, in my office, is the innitial interview is recorded. We use candid capture to email a candidate a battery of timed interview questions that they can answer when they can, without having to take time off from work or traveling to my office.
Then, I and my recruiters can review the videos on our time, we can pause them if the phone rings, we can rewind it an listen to a candiate's answer again to really process their answer, we can quickly eliminate candidates that can't answer a pre-qualifying question. What's more, though a candidate may not be the right match for the job we originally contacted them about, based on their interview, we may find they would be great for another client that doesn't even HAVE an opening. I have sent clients that weren't even looking to hire anyone, sent them a candidate profile (resume, reference letter, test results, and video interview) and had clients have them in to interview in person and hire them!

Video is new, it seems like its just one more thing, one more task or chore for the recruiter. And it did take my recruiters some time to adapt to the new technology. But now, both my recruiters and my clients love it. It save time, but more importantly, it presents a whole person. No one can be squeezed onto a piece of paper. Presenting a full candidate profie to hiring mangers, with resumes, reference letters, skills assessments, sample work-product, and yes, video interviews helps them to evaluate the whole person.

Bottom line is that Recruiters are Matchmakers; connecting people with people. Resumes are impersonal, one dimentional. Videos are the next-best thing to a handshake.
Comment by Colleen Aylward on September 26, 2010 at 11:12pm
Totally agree, Allison! Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Hung Lee on September 27, 2010 at 5:18pm
Thanks all for contributing - I've really enjoyed reading your comments. Colleen, I'm going to jump into this discussion - and as an only occasionally smart guy, I hope you'll find it within yourself to forgive me ;-)

Alasdair - I appreciate your concerns, but I think the concept has grown up since the days of Impossible Is Nothing. We're not going to see X-Factor style pitches-to-the camera, but rather the application of video to replace or truncate some aspect of the recruitment lifecycle. Even when there are personal bio's, they seemed to be controlled by format, production advice and common sense. See for what I mean

Jerry, I must congratulate you on your innovation!. I had not even thought of putting in audio as a standalone. I think this has application, particularly in roles where speaking skills are central to the role, but I have a problem with thinking that we can do audio but then decide not to do the visual, when quite frankly, it's nowadays easier to do the two together. I'd be interested to see how you progress with it though, so keep me posted, and good luck.

Travis - the vendors spoken to seem to be very confident on the legal side, though presumably it's not their problem as they are only providing the platform and not making the decision. Agreed, it would be interesting to get a view from employment law, but alas, no chance on this community!

Sandra - yes there is no question that those that are visually appealing will have advantages with video technology. But then, don't we all know already that physical beauty confers significant career benefits anyway? Fair or not, that's the way that cookie has always crumbled. With this in mind, the application of video technology simply moves the decision to reject a little earlier in the process - and arguably, this is a benefit to the rejected candidates - after all, wouldn't your lazy eye guy would get rejected at some point in any case? Better earlier, so he or she can move onto an employer with a more enlightened acquisition strategy.

Pam - it is interesting that all the advocates seem to be vendors. It's equally interesting that the naysayers are all recruiters. In my view, video is simply too good an assessment tool for it not be used in recruitment in some way - we are, after all, a species for whom visual stimulous remains the primary input for information about the world. My message to all recruiters is that we must respond to the challenges that technology provides and move up or down the food chain as you prefer. What we cannot do is stay as we are, and 'add value' by recommending to our clients, on the basis that we've met the guy and therefore he's OK.

Given my views on the inevitability of video in recruitment, the questions that interest me more are, what is the best application?

I would say we can use it in the following ways:

1. As a direct replacement for the CV - companies like VideoBio are in this space, recording bespoke video promotions on behalf of candidates

2. CV enhancers - see companies like VisualCV or Innovate CV here in the UK. These provide video inserts into an online profile. This is the text plus solution

3. As direct replacement for the pre qualification/1st stage interview - Allison's company would appear to be in this space. Also see who seem to have a similar concept

Anybody got a 4th?

Thanks all again for reading this post and for comments that really added value. If you want see comments from some of the video vendors I've mentioned, see the comments section in my original blog post at

Best wishes

Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 27, 2010 at 7:32pm
My suggestion. Just go take a look at ten or 12 video presentations by candidates. It's a painful experience. The reason the recruiters are naysayers is because we are the ones who have to sent that shit to our clients and we aint' gonna do it. They don't want them and it's not my job to teach people how to hire or change their process.

A. We do not want to be the test case for the EEOC. Nor do we want to put our clients in a position to be the first one sued for knocking a candidate out because they looked like a dork on a video.

B. Most people do not present well in a video unless they are professionally trained. Period! They look goofy, stiff, stilted or like Charlie McCarthy is operating them from a hole in the back.

c. Nothing is ever going to replace a CV/resume. Give it up. Nuttin honey, ya gotta have one.

D. A video will not replace a phone interview. A phone interview is interactive with questions that are developed many times during the course of the conversation.

E. Millions of companies have filters that do not let video's through the system. I once sent a Christmas Carol video to several clients. It took a month to get my email address off the "blocked" list.

F. ATS systems and online applications which are universally used do not accept videos.

Just because something is new does not make it wonderful. In my opinon technology has done more to make monkeys out of people than the circus. The camera adds ten pounds minimum. A reasonable sounding voice when recorded in presenting mode without Q &A does not sound normal.
Sorry guys no sale in this quarter.
Comment by Alex Kovalenko on September 27, 2010 at 7:42pm
:) Not going to happen. It is all in the numbers. Why would I spend:
2 min average video CV * 100 = around 200-300 minutes to watch 100 CVs (so around 6-7 hours - my whole day) rather than go through 100 CVs (paper old school CVs) on average 15-20 seconds = 30 minutes. I will be already calling my chosen 20 candidates before you can even watch candidate #20. :)


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